LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – After the Supreme Court ruling deemed it unconstitutional to sentence a person under 18 to life in prison without parole, some inmates have had reduced sentences.
Some have also come up for parole and others have been released.
Wallace Allen murdered a young mother in 1997 in front of her three daughters in Little Rock.
Allen, 17 at the time, was sentenced to life without parole. His sentence was then commuted to 40 years.
With parole a possibility, the three daughters are upset that there’s a chance he won’t spend life or 40 years in prison. He has now served 21.
Shera, Marshaya and Brandi are adults with their own families now. But when they were 11, 9 and 6, they witnessed an unthinkable act.
Their mother, Carol Roundtree, was shot in the head as she was trying to get in her car. All three daughters, in the car that night, witnessed a scene that would remain vivid more than two decades later.
“Out of nowhere, I blinked and it’s a person standing there with a gun pointed at my mother,” Brandi says.
“She was like baby, all I have is this 5 dollars, this is it. She’s fumbling and contents of her purse is coming out,” adds Marshaya. “She’s begging. He takes the gun and points at me. She’s begging for my life, I’m begging for her life and then all of a sudden he takes the gun and points it back at her…and he shoots her, her head is now in my lap.”
The gunman, Allen, was convicted and sentenced to life without parole. His sentence was reduced to 40 years after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling deemed it unconstitutional to sentence minors without a chance of ever being released.
After serving 21 years, he is now up for parole.
The victim’s daughters, along with relatives and friends, are devastated.
“July 11th, 1997 has left a permanent mark on my life,” says Shera at a hearing of the State Parole Board. “Wallace Allen should be denied. I have witnessed what he’s capable of.”
One by one, they spoke their fears of his release before the board.
“This is the night that will forever be with us. No matter what we do. No matter what we accomplish. No matter where we go.”
We reached out to Allen hoping for an interview and coverage of his parole hearing. Instead, we got a letter from a cellmate.
“Mr. Allen has decided to decline your request…due to the perceived negative effect it would have on the victim’s family, his immediate family and his own personal life.”
“After that night, we never came back here again,” Shera says.
For the first time since that night, the sisters recently went back to the home and parking lot where their lives changed dramatically.
“It looks different but it feels the same,” Shera continues.
Their emotions reveal little sympathy for Allen.
“At the end of the day, you had a choice in it all. You could have said no, you said yes. When you could have not pulled the trigger, you did,” she says.
For now, it’s about coming to terms with the inevitable.
“I didn’t want to relive this again, so either way it goes, I just have to accept him being paroled, denied. He will be out,” says Shera.
Out of prison either now, or later. This family hopes it’s long enough to give them one more chance at healing.